Breastfeeding success isn’t an easy feat to accomplish. That’s why we at Mama’s Choice have scoured the best tips to make breastfeeding easier from real Mamas so you, too, can have a successful breastfeeding journey.
Breastfeeding isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. As beautiful as this experience is, it’s also a journey riddled with huge bumps, sharp turns, and shady hitchhikers determined to bring you down. Brutal but beautiful, it tests every new mama’s determination, perseverance, and pain threshold.
At Mama’s Choice, we support every Mama’s choice—pun intended. 🙂 Whether it’s to embrace the challenges of breastfeeding or welcome the joys of formula feeding. But in this article, we’re sharing with you 17 tips to help make breastfeeding easier for you and your little one.
1. Take a breastfeeding class
Weeks before you pop, it would be extremely helpful to sign up for a breastfeeding class or two. One of the top organizations for breastfeeding support is the La Leche League International, which has many leaders and support groups worldwide.
Besides learning practical breastfeeding tips such as positions and hunger cues, taking such a class is also a great way to pick up valuable knowledge that helps you navigate the journey with more confidence. In an article published on Parents.com, Dee Kassing, an IBCLC lactation consultant based in Missouri highlighted that meeting with a lactation consultant before delivery allows you to pick up “tips that will help in the beginning, and you’ll know whom to call if you have a problem.”
2. Start as early as possible
The World Health Organization recommends that “early and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact” between mamas and babies should be encouraged as soon as possible after birth. Ideally, within the first hour after delivery. Doing this helps you bond and establish breastfeeding. Many hospitals encourage rooming-in, which allows you to breastfeed more and therefore establish breastfeeding as early and naturally as possible.
3. Ease breast engorgement with a cabbage
Breast engorgement is one of the painful sides of breastfeeding, which causes many mamas to give up breastfeeding altogether. One of the numerous ways to overcome this is by simply placing cabbage leaves over the breast, avoiding the nipple area. It helps reduce the pain and bring down the swelling.
4. Full breasts? Hand express to help your baby
Who wouldn’t want the feeling that comes with knowing you have milk, right? Unfortunately, not all babies are comfortable with the overabundant flow of milk. If you notice them coughing or sputtering at the start of each feeding, it’s a good idea to hand express (and ideally store them for later!) and reduce the amount of milk in your breast.
5. Add breastmilk supply-boosting foods to your diet
Breastfeeding is easier when you don’t have to constantly worry about your milk supply. Oats and fenugreek are two of the most common milk-boosting foods. They’re present in nearly all lactation cookies! But apart from these, other foods known to help with lactation include barley, carrots, asparagus, brown rice, salmon, moringa, chickpea, lentils, beets, tofu, and holy basil.
6. Talk to a breastfeeding pal
Nothing beats the support of a friend. If you have a friend who is pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to them about your struggles. Your sister, cousin, sister-in-law, and even mama are great people to have on your breastfeeding support team! Besides an open ear, they may even be a fountain of knowledge with their past experiences. No matter what happens, don’t bottle in all your feelings–find someone to help you in your journey, mama.
7. Invest in a nursing pillow
Breastfeeding itself is rewarding but boy can it be incredibly uncomfortable. That is why many mamas recommend investing in simple comforts such as a breastfeeding pillow. Sure, a regular pillow can work just fine but there are pillows designed to wrap around your waist area and provide the best support so your baby can nurse comfortably while your arms and back aren’t straining too much.
8. Create a breastfeeding corner
Feeling relaxed and comfortable is one of the most important tips to make breastfeeding easier. It’s crucial for a smoother breastfeeding experience. If your space permits, set up a cozy little corner with a comfy couch, pillows, music, snacks, water, and other essentials you need when you breastfeed.
9. Wear nursing-friendly tops
When you’re caring for a newborn, expect to nurse round the clock since they’ll be breastfeeding on demand. Make it easier for you, mama, with nursing tops that come with hidden slits for easy nursing access. Some tops provide sufficient coverage to allow you to breastfeed in public, too, without the need for a nursing cover.
10. Change your breastfeeding positions
It’s not true that you need to stick to one breastfeeding position. Learning different breastfeeding positions can help you down the road when you encounter common breastfeeding issues such as mastitis or sore nipples. Plus, did you know that most breastfeeding pain can be remedied by simply changing your breastfeeding position?
11. Use a milk catcher to save every drop
Breast milk is precious so don’t waste a single drop! When nursing, you can attach a letdown catcher to save milk that’s leaking from one breast while you nurse. It’s a great way to slowly build up your supply, too.
12. Take care of your nipples
No breastfeeding mama skipped the period of sore and cracked nipples. It’s common during the first few days of nursing, around the time you and your baby are still learning breastfeeding together. Don’t let painful nipples stop you from breastfeeding! Apply a safe and natural nipple cream like Mama’s Choice Intensive Nipple Cream before and after every feed to help you prevent soreness and dryness.
13. Try a nipple shield
An ingenious creation for mamas struggling to get a good latch with their babies, a nipple shield helps alleviate painful breastfeeding. This tip to make breastfeeding easier is particularly useful if you have flat nipples or dealing with sore nipples.
14. Avoid using a pacifier too early
Pacifiers are perfectly fine to use, but it’s generally recommended to wait until a mama’s milk supply is established before you introduce a pacifier. Typically, this would be after six to eight weeks. But here are a few pointers when using a pacifier: try not to use a pacifier as a way to keep a baby from the breast. During the newborn stage, babies nurse anywhere from eight to 12 times per day.
15. Rely on your baby’s cues, not the clock
For first-time mamas, timing every nursing session may appear to be the safest way to ensure you are feeding your baby appropriately. However, many health professionals suggest observing a baby’s hunger cues and not the clock. Each baby’s feeding pattern differs. Some babies nurse in short intervals, while other babies may nurse longer.
According to Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC lactation consultant, “it’s typical for some babies to take one breast at some feedings and both breasts at home.” To ensure you breastfeed your little one at the appropriate times, lookout for signs of hunger such as licking the lips or putting their hands to their mouth.
16. A little massage goes a long way
In a previous article, we talked about how an oxytocin massage can do wonders for your let-down reflex. But if you don’t have anybody to do the said massage, you can go for a simple breast massage which you can do by yourself. This helps to drain your breast more effectively, which in turn tells your body to make more milk! Plus, massage can also help soften your breasts when they’re engorged.
17. Look after yourself too, mama
From getting enough sleep to eating a healthy diet, breastfeeding is a journey best taken when you’re at your best. And so, don’t be afraid to ring grandma or ask for a timeout from your hubby to collect yourself or catch some sleep.
With these tips to make breastfeeding easier, we hope you find yourself one step closer to a successful breastfeeding journey and reap the breastfeeding benefits for mamas and babies. Here’s a quick reference guide about different breastfeeding positions and which scenarios they work best for. We hope you find this useful, mama!
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Mama's Choice Team
A team of passionate writers, young mamas, and creative superheroes who help mamas face motherhood one educational article at a time!